This afternoon Democratic presidential candidate Barack put out a statement condemning Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. “I condemn Russia’s decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states and call upon all countries of the world not to accord any legitimacy to this action,” Obama said.
The Democrat called on the UN Security Council to condemn Russia’s actions, “The United States should call for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to condemn Russia’s decision in coordination with our European allies. The U.S. should lead within the UN and other international forums to cast a clear and unrelenting light on the decision, and to further isolate Russia internationally because of its actions. The OSCE must also send a serious monitoring group to Georgia.”
Obama said that Russia must respect the territorial sovereignty of Georgia and other independent states, “Russia’s government must respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and other independent states. Its refusal to do so calls into question its commitment to the responsibilities of membership to organizations such as the OCSE and the Russia-NATO Council, its application to join the WTO and the OECD, and makes it impossible for Congress to enact the civil nuclear agreement. If Russia’s government continues to violate the norms and practices of the international community, the United States and our allies must review all aspects of relations with Russia.”
He said that Russia’s recent actions prove that European peace and security should not be taken for granted, “Let us be clear, no one wants to see another Cold War with Russia. The United States and Russia have many mutual interests, and Russia has the potential to become a critical stakeholder in the international system. But Russia’s recent choices –not American or European decisions — are threatening this potential and reminding us all that peace and security in Europe cannot be taken for granted.”
The reality is that America’s policy options are limited. The best that the US can likely do is to provide aid to Georgia, while applying diplomatic pressure to Russia. Notice the measured tone in Obama’s language compared to the saber rattling of John McCain, but it makes little difference which candidate wins to this Russia/Georgia problem.
The difference will be in the approach that is taken towards the future US-Russia relationship. The Bush administration has alternated between embracing and turning a blind eye towards Russia. John McCain has already shown that he will be willing to take a more confrontational stand with Russia, and Obama looks to be more diplomatic.